Toussaint, H. M., & Vervoorn, K. (1990). Effects of specific high resistance training in the water on competitive swimmers. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 11, 228-23.

The MAD-system, which measures active drag, was used as a training device providing fixed push off points (POP) in the water for arms-only crawl stroke swimming. Well-trained swimmers were divided into matched pairs for 1) a training group, and 2) a control group. All swimmers performed the same training program for 10 weeks with the training group receiving three sessions of training on the POP device instead of normal sprint training. The training group improved in force (3.3%), velocity (3.4%), and power (7%) as measured on the MAD system. The training group also reduced the number of strokes taken in 25 m and 50 m sprints and improved significantly in race times for distances of 50 m (27.2 to 26.6 s), 100 m (59.3 to 57.4 s), and 200 m (129.6 to 127.3 s). The control group only improved in the 100 m time.

This article proposes that MAD-POP training benefits swimming. The distance covered in each stroke and the evenness of stroking were improved after training on the device. Performance parameters that result from using the device were improved when measured on the device (the specificity of training effect). Performance times also improved but the differences between the groups were not as great as the MAD-POP parameters.

Implication. There is a suggestion that there might be minor amounts of carry-over from this device training to actual swimming performances. If that was so, then it supports the contention that overloading while actually swimming is a feature that needs to be incorporated into resistance training in the sport. It should also be noted that with this system the swimmer propels him/herself forward rather than moving water backward (as happens in tethered swimming). That could be the factor that accounts for the effectiveness demonstrated in this study.

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